Saturday, February 2, 2019

52 ANCESTORS IN 52 WEEKS–Week #5–In the Library - Some tips from my own trips

An isle of books at the Family History Library - like a genealogy gold mine

When I think of libraries, I think of books.  And when I think of books, I smile.  I have always loved reading, studying & learning.  Much of that is done with the aid of books.  Especially back when I was young and growing up.
But, libraries these days are hubs of activities and technology, as well as books.

Let’s talk about the two BIG libraries in the world of genealogy.  The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City and the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I’ve been to the FHL three times and each trip was wonderful.  I learned a lot and spent most of my days there on the third floor where it’s wall to wall books.  I have never had the pleasure of going to the Allen County library, but it’s on my list.

How important are libraries to our genealogical research?  VERY IMPORTANT!

Not all, or even close to all of our research can be done online.  WHAT?  Yes, it’s true.  Many millions of records and the information we seek about our ancestors is still only available with boots on the ground research.

I’ve taken several genealogy road trips.  What could be more fun?  Each time I go I visit a library or two.  I also go to historical societies, but that’s for another blog post.

Let’s review where I’ve gone and what libraries I’ve visited:
When you visit a library, always try to have a plan. 
  • What are you looking for?
  • Who do you need information on?
  • What does this library offer?  Search their card catalog before you go
  • Take your laptop, tablet, smart phone and camera
  • Clothes pins to hold books open
I prefer to take photos of books with my camera. It’s actually quicker for me and more reliable, less chances of blurring than with my iPad or iPhone.  I have a Canon Sure Shot and it has served me well.

Here’s a screen shot of some of the items from a trip to the FHL in June 2015. Remember to always FIRST photograph the title page and/or the copyright page if they are on two different pages. Then you will know exactly which book your images came from.

This is what your images will look like.  I transfer them to my computer from my camera card, each day.  After they are transferred I crop and straighten or enhance them as needed.

Take advantage of the local histories that may be on file at the libraries. Also check for city directories for that location.  Use the microfilm readers to view items that may not be available online.  Especially local newspapers.
Ask questions of staff, as they can be a wealth of information.
Have fun and enjoy.  I can literally get lost in libraries for hours on end.


BOOKS - Why We Still Need Them - Which Ones Are in Your Library?

MY BIGGEST LIBRARY FIND EVER - The real name of my husband's great grandfather!

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2019   Diane Gould Hall



  1. Great information Diane! Can't wait to go to the Family History Library one day soon.

    1. Going to the FHL with you is definitely one of my "hope to do soon" items :)


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.